Boost for SA black farmers

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Colleta Dewa

Johannesburg - South Africa emerging black farmers are set to benefit from a multibillion-rand fund that set to be availed by businessman Patrice Motsepe.

Motsepe said this during the African Farmers Association of SA (Afasa) agribusiness transformation conference in Bloemfontein over the weekend adding that the fund will focus on assisting those in agriculture, agribusiness and related industries.

"We need black farmers to be part of sustainable, commercially viable and profitable enterprises. When we do that we will build a future for all of our people," said Motsepe. 

He said land was a "deeply emotional issue" among South Africans which influences the politics of the day.

"You will never be able to take the politics out of the land," he added.

In her address during the same occasion, South Africa's Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, said it was crucial for the government to have a special strategy for youths and women development in agriculture.

"In addition, we have a responsibility to revitalise restituted land back to production as well as support farmers settled in agricultural state land and those in our communal areas who have acquitted themselves as farmers even where land scarcity remains a challenge."

Agriculture is one of the key sectors of SA's embattled economy.

Its contribution to the GDP fell from 4.2% in 1996 to 2.4% in 2018, while its value jumped from R50.5bn to R74.2bn over the same period.

In his state of the nation address in June, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that R3.9bn would be allocated to the Land Bank over the medium-term budget period for the benefit of black commercial farmers.

The president said the funding was aimed at expanding agriculture and the agro-processing sector by supporting key value chains and products, developing new markets and reducing the country's reliance on agricultural imports.

In 2018, the agricultural economy contracted 4.8% year-on-year due to poor summer grains harvest as a result of drier weather conditions.

Economic analyst Dawie Maree said collaboration between smallholder farmers will enhance sustainability and profitability, adding that land expropriation without compensation "is one of the key risks" for the industry.

"There is very little that farmers can do to mitigate this. We have to work around it. We consider the new policy on land a risk for agriculture but are not overly concerned at this stage. We do expect more clarity around March next year."

In July, the National Assembly agreed to re-establish a multiparty ad-hoc committee to introduce legislation amending section 25 of the constitution, or the property clause. It is expected to report back by March 31 2020.

 

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